What people wore in the distant past is often challenging to determine, owing to the disintegration of natural textiles and materials over time. Yet when new findings from archaeological excavations are compared with documentation about early Acadia, a fascinating picture of the society’s early fashions is revealed.
Fashioning Acadians is a history of clothesmaking and dress in Acadia from 1650 to 1750. Through the analysis of four Acadian settlements in what is now Nova Scotia, Hilary Doda uncovers the regional fashions and trends that had begun to emerge prior to the violence of the deportations of 1755. Men’s and women’s wardrobes are described from head to toe, from headdresses and hairstyles down to stockings and shoes, along with accessories such as buttons, buckles, and jewellery. While Acadians retained many aspects of the fashion systems of France, New France, and New England, a distinctive Acadian identity can be seen to take shape as their dress evolved and was influenced by other regional styles. Exploring the possibilities of a new methodology for identifying lost or decayed garments, Doda argues that surviving notions, sewing tools, and accessories – the small finds of archaeological sites – are important sources of information not only about domestic life, but about manufacturing processes, dress and textile cultures, and the influence of intersecting fashion systems in colonial spaces.
Fashioning Acadians expands our understanding of Acadian lives and their connections to both the Atlantic world of goods and the landscapes of Nova Scotia.